From The Cheap Seats
"You know, if I owned the team, I might make the same decision, in all honesty" -- Del Harris, commenting on his firing as coach of the Lakers
That quote tells you a lot about Del Harris. He's a good man, with genuine dignity and a ton of class. He's also been a damned successful coach, treating his players like grownups, and the press like his friends, rather than enemies. Basketball is poorer for his departure.
Unfortunately for Del, all those terrific attributes don't add up to a championship, and therein was the reason his dismissal was justified. Being calm is a great attribute, but in a playoff situation, aggressiveness is the key attribute, making quick judgements on the fly, pulling ineffective players, getting the matchups you want, rather than the ones your opponent wants. That was never Del's strength, and Jerry West wanted to fire him after the playoff loss to Utah. But Jerry Buss wanted to have him run out his contract, which ended this season, so Harris was left in place.
This year Del just lost control, he couldn't motivate the team at all. In the loss at Vancouver, their play could best be described as "listless", an unbearable condition for a team on a two game losing streak. This time, West got his way.
It's Kurt Rambis's turn with this overrated collection. He'll have Dennis Rodman to help, or blame, as the case may be. The problem is that Rodman doesn't fix their biggest problem, which is a serious lack of offensive talent, especially quality shooters. Their bench is full of players who used to be able to shoot, Robert Horry and Rick Fox are in that category, and players who couldn't hit a 15-footer if their lives depended on it: Blount, Rooks, Rodman, and the enigmatic Elden Campbell. They need to have an offense to run, one beyond toss it into Shaq, watch him fight through a double team, or pass to someone who will fling up a bad shot, or have it end up in Kobe's hands, where he will decide (usually correctly) that he can beat his man, then miss a bad shot, turn it over, or do something spectacular which will make the ESPN highlights. You can't beat good teams like that.
NJW (Next Jordan Watch): Let's look at this lineup: the center is Matt Geiger, the forwards are Theo Ratliff and George Lynch, the shooting guard is Eric Snow, the top bench players are Harvey Grant and rookies, and they felt the need to dredge the river for Rick Mahorn to flesh out this rancid roster. This looks like an expansion team heading for an 8 win season, doesn't it? Ah, but there's a position missing and that's manned by Allen Iverson, who may well be the most valuable player in the league thus far, since at this point, the 76ers have a 7-5 record. I don't expect them to keep it up, but they're 3-1 on the road thus far, so maybe they can stay in the race in the weak Eastern Conference. Thursday's stats: 33 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals.
It's amazing that there are people who think the Blue Jays made a good trade because David Wells went 18-4 last year while Clemens went 20-6. These people are, to put it kindly, dim. Last year, Clemens pitched for a weak-hitting Blue Jay team while Wells pitched for the greatest team ever. Last year, Clemens had a 2.65 ERA, Wells had a 3.49. Looking deeper, Wells was very dependent on Yankee Stadium, on the road his ERA ballooned to 4.11, compared to Clemens road ERA of 2.44. I'd take Clemens next year and lay a run a game vs. Wells, and that makes for a pretty lopsided pickup for the Yankees over the course of the season.
I've been watching the golf tournament this week, mostly because I have no life, but also because match play is a much more interesting than medal play. Head-to-head competition personalizes the pressure and really makes the whole thing more fun. Unfortunately, this is not what the networks want to see, tense thrilling battles involving, Jeff Maggert, Steve Pate, Andrew Magee, and John Huston. What happened to David Duval vs Mark O'Meara? Sunday was supposed to be Tiger Woods vs. David Duval for a million dollars, not two guys who should be in a playoff in the B.C. Open -- it's enough to make strong network executives weep. On the other hand, these guys actually are gonna be incredibly happy to make this money. What's another million to Tiger Woods? This way it gets to pay for Andrew Magee's retirement.